The inaugural meeting of the newly formed University Council occurred on Wednesday, March 30, 3-5 p.m. in the JSAC Multipurpose Room. The University Council is a 22-member panel representing six campus groups–undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, the Clerc Center, and the administration. Members are charged with advising and counseling the president on university decision-making on issues of interest to the entire community, as well as with improving communication among members of the community by providing an open forum for discussion of critical university decisions. President T. Alan Hurwitz opened the meeting by welcoming members and thanking them for their efforts to “open up the lines of communication … to find consensus as we make tough decisions.” He indicated the council should focus on matters that are university-wide and impact the campus community at large.

Re-examination of the campus smoking policy was the first topic of discussion. A report from the campus smoking policy committee was presented by Gary Aller, executive director for Business and Support Services; the committee has been examining options associated with possible changes in the policy. The current policy states that smoking is not permitted inside any university or Clerc Center building and permitted outside only in designated areas where cigarette receptacles are located. The policy also states that the rights of non-smokers to protect their health takes precedence over another person’s right to smoke. Better educating the campus community about the smoking policy and offering smoking cessation classes were discussed, as was providing accessible smoking areas, and the impact on smokers and the surrounding community if the campus were designated as a smoke-free campus. Feedback from constituent groups was shared by council members. Further research will be conducted by the campus smoking policy committee, and for now a step-by-step approach will be followed on campus to control, and hopefully reduce, smoking rather than implementing a smoke-free campus.

Innovation Reporting Team (IRT) co-chair Frank Duffy provided an overview of the charge and membership of the IRT. In the next few days, the IRT will unveil a new website and a short promotional video to encourage the campus community to participate and provide innovative ideas to help implement the five Gallaudet Strategic Goals. Following the IRT report, each constituent group gave an update on current activities within each area as well as upcoming events. Finally, the president thanked the members for their participation, with special recognition for those members who created the bylaws for the council. The next University Council meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 29, 3-5 p.m. in the JSAC Multipurpose Room. Meetings are open to the campus community and minutes will be publicly posted.

For more information about the University Council, including a link to its bylaws, click here

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